12 August, 2022

How God Plans to Make America (and All Nations) Great Again

by | 1 July, 2022 | 14 comments

By Michael C. Mack 

Jesus often used his disciples’ shortsighted questions (e.g., Mark 10:37; John 14:5; Mark 13:4), to teach them truth about himself, his ministry, the kingdom of God, and themselves. Perhaps we can learn some things as well.  

Shortly before Jesus’ ascension, his disciples asked one last question: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). This was not an unusual question for Jewish people during this period. For a long time, they had wondered when Israel would finally be freed from Roman occupation and oppression. The question came from nationalistic hopes rooted deeply in their Jewish culture and religion. Jesus didn’t chastise them for asking; at least it demonstrated their faith that he was the Messiah. He simply told them not to worry about times and dates . . . that God would act in his own timing to restore the Israelite nation. They were simply to trust him.  

Jesus then redirected their attention from political, nationalistic thinking to eternal kingdom thinking and action. Stop worrying about that . . . and start focusing on this: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). That was Jesus’ vision for his disciples then—to be his witnesses wherever he would take them—and it still is today.  

The question being asked by many American churchgoers today is this: “When will God bring revival to this nation and restore our Christian foundations?” The desire for a country based on Christian morality and for revival is not unlike the concern in Jesus’ day for the restoration of Israel, its freedom, and economic prosperity. Today’s question has nationalistic hopes for a return to biblical values. It seeks a freedom of sorts from a secular, non-Christian, even anti-Christian culture and the new rules imposed on believers that oppose our Christian beliefs and oppress those who hold them.  

Before his ascension, Jesus wanted to make sure his first disciples had their kingdom priorities straight . . . and I can think of no reason he wouldn’t want the same for his disciples today. He cares—and wants us to care—primarily about God’s kingdom, not ours. Perhaps Jesus is redirecting us back to his vision and agenda: Stop worrying about that . . . and start focusing on this . . .  

The people who converged on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, carried with them a vision for America. Many of the protestors, some of whom turned into insurgents, also carried with them emblems of their faith (some mingled with nationalistic symbolism): the Christian flag; ichthus flags; an American flag with the words, “Make America Godly Again” written on its white stripes; many signs bearing Christian/patriotic slogans; a large wooden cross erected across from the Capitol; and others.  

The hats on the heads of the January 6 protestors made clear their mission: “Make America Great Again.” I believe Jesus would redirect his followers and replace that nationalistic sentiment with his mission, imploring us to “seek first his kingdom” by being his witnesses and making disciples. He would assure us we can trust the Father to restore this and every country to God’s original design—a new Creation (Revelation 21–22)—in his timing and according to his plan. Which means we can, and should, stop expending so much energy on that and focus instead on eternal kingdom thinking, mission, and action.  

As a mentor recently reminded me, true revival only comes as people’s hearts are changed as they follow Jesus, not via political revolution. As God’s kingdom advances, transformation will come to the lives of individuals, then cities, then nations, and then all the world.  

Let’s “Make Authentic Disciples Again”!  

America (and “all nations”) will become truly great when followers of Jesus simply obey his Great Commission . . . making authentic disciples again and again and again . . . until the very end of the age. 

Michael C. Mack serves as editor of Christian Standard.  

(Image: Detail of photo from U.S. Capitol grounds, Jan. 6, 2021, courtesy of Elvert Barnes/Wikimedia Commons.)  

Christian Standard

Contact us at cs@christianstandardmedia.com

14 Comments

  1. Dan Garrett

    Wow. Insightful and poignant. Also—brave.

  2. Jon Weatherly

    Thanks, Mike. You may be criticized for rejecting the MAGA/Christian Nationalist agenda, but you do so rightly. There are more just and less just political agendas, but there is no political agenda that builds the reign of Christ.

  3. Linda Wallace

    I imagine the Pharisees would have welcomed Jesus with open arms if he had agreed to become their king and lead a revolt against Rome in the name of religion. But he did not, much to their dismay. The problem with “making America great again” is that it is not for everyone, while the Gospel is.

  4. Jay Mahan

    Agree. That being said, it is consistent with the biblical witness to also engage in government and society. The church disengaged during the 1950s-’70s, abdicating its influence in our nation’s institutions. The cost of which is being paid today. How do you see the role of disciple-making also fulfilling or societal/political responsibilities?

  5. Beth Fehl

    I almost didn’t read the article because I bristled at the title. I’m glad I did and am encouraged to see you (and Christian Standard) using your voice to point believers to the actual calling on our lives. When culture or politics pushes against our convictions we have a greater opportunity to reflect Christ and exhibit faithful living. This opportunity is not just being squandered. It is being exploited by our true adversary, masterfully distracting some believers from their mission and even emboldening some to live in anger and take up literal and figurative arms for a temporal battle in which their true Commander in Chief is not giving orders.

  6. Al Edmonds

    When we follow Jesus in out HEART, instead of doggedly pin our hopes on a human leader, the Holy Spirit will be more able to keep our path straight. . . . Some folks know the Truth, but don’t accept it in their hearts because of Satan’s deception. That is spiritually a dangerous thing.

  7. Donald Crane

    Fabulous. Thank you for God’s wisdom and brotherly encouragement.

  8. Mary Lou Martin

    I am 92 years old. I have lived all of my life in a sinful world. I have sinned and I have sorrowed but I have never been depressed. I have chosen, throughout my life, to put my trust in the God of hope. Romans 15:13.

  9. jim e montgomery

    ‘Jesus’ vision for his disciples then … and, it still is today … “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” …’ Ever wonder what the first disciples of Jesus did till the NT books were written? How did they know what to do? 20-ish years passed till they got selected, written instructions? All they had to go on was the Promised and Indwelling Spirit of God! That’ll direct your Character and Conduct! Why is that not good enough for disciples since? Of course, it puts out of work an entire 2,000-year and ongoing industry – Theology! Point is, Jesus left the Spirit of God. Had He intended to leave written instructions, He could have! Too Legalistic, Rules and Regulations driven, Argumentative-Prone, Mis-directive from His Kingdom to local squabbles over centuries … and the list goes on! Feel free-ish to add your own. Here, going with the Spirit of God!

  10. Ron Fraser

    Thanks Mike! As a Canadian follower of Jesus, I have been deeply disturbed by the obsession with political power by my American brothers and sisters. Power and the ideologies that underwrite them come and go. But Christ’s kingdom, already underway in us his people, stands forever. All the more, I appreciate this reminder of our true task, to bear witness to it. And I especially appreciate the courage of the editor of the Christian Standard to speak this truth!

  11. Melody Aurelia Johnsen

    A very helpful article and a reminder to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness above all (Matthew 6:33).

  12. Dwight Webster

    I agree with your conclusion. We need more “authentic disciples.” But the issue that still needs to be addressed is “What constitutes an ‘authentic disciple’?” That is an issue that has been debated for many, many years and will almost certainly be debated until Jesus comes again. Somehow the devil has been active in muddying these waters. Did those that Jesus said called him Lord but would not be entering the kingdom of heaven think they were authentic disciples? Jesus’ criteria was doing the will of the Father.

    Does casual dress and casual worship fit with the will of the Father? If so, what was the wedding garment issue Jesus brought up in Matthew 22:11-12? Sure feels like a respect issue to me. Nadab and Abihu might warn us that God is pretty particular about that. If there is a smidgeon of a chance that God will hold being treated casually against us on judgment day, we can’t let people think they can treat God casually and be authentic disciples — not for their sake or for ours. I am told it is just a cultural issue. So fitting in with the culture overrides our need to dress our best when we worship the Lord? Really?

  13. Vernon Thiede

    When Christian Americans, who are Financially Rich by Global Standards and Means, begin to help the needy in Christ in earnest about the Globe then American Revival will come. But as long as they continue to act like the Rich Young Ruler then American Revival remains nothing more than “wishful thinking”. I rarely see American Christians making sacrifices for the Poor in Christ abroad. Instead they spend Millions to put up American Church Buildings which are often little more than Country Clubs while going into debt and eventually they run out of money and prospects and dissolve having rescued no one in distress! Having made no New Creations. Having Blessed no one in Need. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1cL5Zr9iAA&

  14. Charles Burgett

    I agree with Mr. Mack that Jesus wants us to care—primarily about God’s kingdom, not ours. I would just like to say that I have seen the MAGA focus to be a strong force against the drift toward a globalist “one world order.” I think that effort has often politically been given the tag “nationalist.”

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